The procession of glowing red mountains at Flinders Ranges National Park, folded and crumpled with age, produces some of the Outback’s most spectacular and timeless scenery, rising from flat scrub to form abrupt escarpments, gorges and the famous elevated basin of Wilpena Pound, a colossal crater rim rising from the plains. The contrast between sky and ranges is softened by native cypresses and river red gums; and in spring the land is burnished by wild flowers of all colours and there are more kangaroos than you can count. Bushwalkers, photographers and painters flock here in their hundreds, but with a system of graded walking tracks ranging in length from a few minutes to several days – not to mention roads of varying quality – the park is busy without being crowded. Most tracks lead into Wilpena Pound, though you can also pick up the Heysen Trail and follow it north from Wilpena for a couple of days around the ABC Range to Aroona Ruins on the northern edge of the park.
Hiking is restricted to the cooler winter months between May and October, due to significant bushfire danger and summer temperatures that often exceed 40°C. Don’t underestimate conditions for even short excursions: you’ll need good footwear, a hat, sunscreen and water – at least a litre per hour is recommended. Note that the weather is very changeable; wind-driven rain can be a menace along the ridges, especially for campers, and heavy downpours cause roads to be closed (check conditions on 1300 361 033).